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Ottawa woman's cancer drug treatment not covered by OHIP

An Ottawa woman is having to take herself off of her company's private insurance because the small business can't afford a hike in premiums after covering her cancer treatment drugs.

Pierrette Breton is now joining the fight to lobby the province to cover oral cancer medications.

The oral medication prescribed by her doctor is the only treatment available for her rare type of cancer but Breton can't afford to pay more than $8,000 dollars a month for the drugs and neither can the small business she works for.

"The company would be paying in excess of $200,000 a year for insurance coverage for the employees, which the company cannot afford. So, in order to protect the employees I have to make this decision," said Breton.

That means she won't get the treatment which dramatically improved her quality of life. The drugs managed her symptoms including severe rashes, intense fatigue and pain and also helped reduce the size of the tumors in her liver.

She isn't taking the drug right now because she is recovering from surgery. Breton said she won't be able to resume taking the drug now that she's been forced to remove herself from the company's insurance plan which covers all 11 employees.

A group called Cancertainty, made up of other patients, doctors and charities, is lobbying the provincial government to include oral therapies in their drug coverage.

OHIP has an approval process that only begins after a drug has been cleared by Health Canada. That means it takes longer for the province to cover a drug than it does for doctors to be able to prescribe it.

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